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    The Future of Government

    10 November 2016

    Message at the 4th Recognition Ceremony for Government Organizations with ISO 9001 Quality Management System Certification, LBP Plaza, Malate Manila

    Governments around the world are expected to manage societies that are much more complex and multi-faceted. 50 years ago, they probably did not have to worry about inequality in very complicated economies, about technological innovations like 3D printers and driverless cars, nor climate change and how it can completely change the future of mankind. The nature of government is also changing rapidly.

    The nature of government is also changing rapidly, ofcourse alam na alam natin na ibang-iba na ngayon. We have grown increasingly centralized and have added so many layers to our bureaucracies.

    Centralization poses a challenge to solving highly localized concerns. This is especially true for the Philippines and its more than 7,000 islands, with unique and varying cultures and challenges.

    The solution to all of these is personal productivity and an unshakeable commitment to excellence from every government official and employee. With an army of public servants who are focused on the citizens they assist, who look at their position as a chance to serve more than as a position of power and entitlement, we can face any problem.

    When those who fill up government offices consider their work as a chance to change the world for the better everyday, when they shun mediocrity and embrace excellence, we can face any problem and solve any challenge.

    The government, as we all know, is the biggest employer in the country. If we succeed in encouraging a work ethic that eradicates the 8-to-5 culture, and nurture servant-leaders and change makers, we can radically change our society.

    We will be able to leave a world for our children that’s a lot better than the world we entered when we were born.

    You are all doing this today in a very effective and memorable way. The Philippine Quality Award, the Government Excellence Class, the Government Best Practice Competition, and the Government Quality Management Program put our bureaucracy on track into becoming a shining light among governments of the world.

    The fact that there are 93 departments, including staff and bureau offices, hospitals and attached agencies, eight executive offices, a constitutional office, 21 state universities and colleges, 14 local government units, 37 GOCCs, and 5 local water districts, or a total of 179 awardees who have succeeded in obtaining ISO 9001 certified QMS among you today, should make us all proud.

    Saludo po kami sa inyong lahat!

    Alam ko po na ang pinagdaanan niyo upang makamit ang karangalang ito ay hindi madali. I know that it took more than the usual level of dedication, hard work, sacrifice, and quite possibly, many sleepless nights, for you to attain this coveted Certification to the ISO 9001 Standards. Know that your efforts are very much appreciated by a grateful nation.

    This will further cement our position in Asia and the Pacific as a Center for Excellence on Public Sector Productivity, a title we obtained last year after Singapore and China. Through the leadership of the Department of Budget and Management, the chairman of the GQMC, the transformation of all our government servants will be faster and complete.

    We are already enjoying the results of your hard work. Our ranking in the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Index for 2015-2016 improved by 38 points.

    Similarly, we moved in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Rank from 103 in 2015 to 99 this year. Ito po ay dahil sa pagsisikap nating baguhin at paangatin ang kalidad ng ating pamahalaan, at nararapat lamang na kayo ay mabigyan ng karampatang papuri dahil dito.

    Subalit naniniwala po ako na ang tunay na parangal ngayong araw para sa inyo ay hindi ang pag-akyat sa entablado, kundi ang mas mataas na kumpyansa at tiwala ng ating taumbayan sa ating mga institusyon.

    In the end, I know that your source of inspiration are not the certificates or trophies and awards that would sit on your tables, but the transformation in the lives of every Filipino you serve. The best reward is to have a democracy that is is efficient, effective, and inspired.

    Truly, the government doesn’t have to be known as a behemoth of an organization devoid of innovation and inspiration. The idea that the private sector is always faster and better doesn’t have to be gospel truth.

    In fact, the discovery of the Internet and the touch-screen features of our mobile phones were funded by the US government. The massive infrastructure projects that transformed China were government-led. Singapore’s status as a financial hub was due to the foresight of its government. And contrary to public opinion, governments are innovators.

    The Philippine bureaucracy can be the source of best practices in our nation too. We don’t have to be stuck in the role of fixing market failures. We can be market shapers.

    We don’t have to be reactive all the time. We must be proactive by default. When we do, we will find amazing ways to solve the ills that have plagued our nation for decades.

    But there is still a lot of work to be done, alam po natin iyon. There are a lot of perspectives that need to be changed. We must be more open to citizen participation. We must find ways to truly listen to the people and let them participate in decision-making. We must empower them and give them a seat at the table. This kind of approach is massively changing the way government is interacting in many areas of the world.

    Halimbawa po lamang, I have visited a number of Yolanda housing projects in Tacloban. Most of the sites I have visited were problematic. No potable water, substandard construction, no access to jobs.

    But one of them stood out, a housing project called Pope Francis village. The houses were bigger and better designed, and the people were happy. The reason for that was that they were consulted during the planning and took part in the implementation. Sila po mismo ang gumawa ng kanilang mga bahay. They were trained to be masons, carpenters, plumbers, electricians, and etcetera. There are many more examples like this all over the country. So the future of government is really very exciting.

    Ladies and gentlemen, the word “government” should not simply refer to all of us who are working in government; it is about how we interact with the public. It is about how we solve things together when we can’t do things on our own.

    Collaboration is key, because nobody has a monopoly of great ideas. And the arithmetic of collaboration is more amazing than the arithmetic that we know. Government and our partners bring their own strength to the table. But the resulting solutions pack so much more force than all those strenths put together.

    This is why our people must be taught that being a Filipino does not end with casting a ballot. That is just the beginning. They must learn to engage to understand and find solutions, not just criticize and vent.

    Our people must learn that the bureaucracy’s failures and successes are also their failures and successes, making it necessary to work as one no matter our political parties, no matter our status in society, no matter our ethnic origins. Fragmentation and polarization hurt all of us, including our future.

    Collaboration, on the other hand, gives citizens a doorway towards influencing outcomes, and thus a fairer perspective of government-led programs. It increases our chances for success.

    So this morning, I see in you the future of our government.

    I see in you a government bureaucracy that puts our citizens first.

    I see in you hope in professionalizing the entire bureaucracy so we can serve our people much better.

    I see in you the way to bring back honor to the words “public servant.” So congratulations again to all awardees and most especially to the GQMC for this wonderful event!

    Maraming maraming salamat po at magandang hapon po sa inyong lahat.

    Posted in Speeches on Nov 10, 2016